Here we go again, another year has flown by at warp speed and a new one is upon us. As we look back at 2015, we are reminded that we can do whatever we set our minds and talents to—regardless of where we are from. The strength of the human spirit, the determination to overcome challenges, and the power of ingenuity and positive thinking never cease to inspire and surprise. If you look back and appreciate everything you’ve accomplished this past year, then look at what you want to change as you imagine the year ahead, you’ll have a strong foundation to map a plan for 2016.
What did you learn in 2015? What did you accomplish? What impact did you have on the lives of those around you?
These are questions to ask as you begin the New Year, and also valuable as you take inventory at the end of the year. Like many, I write my goals for the year on a page and review to them monthly. As I think about who I am and how I walk through the year, I experiment with a set of principles to help guide me from year to year.
The world needs good to shine bright and to show what it’s made of, more so than ever, so for me 2016 is going to be fueled by looking for, and bringing goodness and the very best energy to each day. Operating with the premise that each day can be the best day possible if the right attitude is applied, here are a few principles that can help you think about 2016 in a new way and get the absolute best out of the year ahead.
1. PUT OTHERS FIRST
Life gets exponentially better when you realize that it’s not all about you. Put others first and you’ll see a difference in your life. Begin by picking five of the most important people in your life and work hard to put their needs ahead of your own.
2. BE THANK-FULL
You get to choose the attitude you start with each day. Set yourself a 365 Day Gratitude Challenge and begin each day listing what you’re grateful for. People who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits, from stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure to higher levels of positive emotions, more joy, optimism and happiness, and act with more generosity and compassion.
3. DO GOOD FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE
The world needs more people and more companies doing more for good. If you lead a team, run a company or are an entrepreneur, carefully examine what doing more for good means in your business. Align your purpose, your values and your people around a meaningful cause. This should apply to your employees, supplier relationships, and the impact on the environment and your community.
4. TO START IS AN ART
Think about something you’ve always wanted to do and map a plan to make it happen. Even if it’s five years from now, having a vision for what you want to achieve is critical to helping accomplish your dreams. If you never start, you’ll never get there. For me this year, it’s going to be writing a book.
5. INVEST (YOUR TIME) WISELY
Time is the most important currency we trade with. How and where you invest your time is where you’ll see the greatest returns. Making the most of your time is one of the most important planning tasks you should undertake.
6. DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT IT, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
Look back at the past 365 days and celebrate something you’re exceptionally proud of. Now identify something you are not exceptionally proud of. Think about what you learned from both and how to apply those lessons to the year ahead.
7. LET YOUR GUARD DOWN
Being a beginner is hard, but you can learn a lot by doing something entirely new for the first time. Sign up for that silent yoga retreat, that Chinese language class or attempt that nine-mile hike—you get the picture. Perhaps the most important piece of this principle is the self-examination afterwards. Ask yourself what the experience taught you. What did you learn by doing something new? Make this the year you aim to learn something new every day.
8. ACT WITH PURPOSE
Everything you do matters. Every action you take, and every conversation you have, matters. Designing your actions with purpose and intentionality is an opportunity to design the life you’ve always wanted.
9. LIFE’S A JOURNEY, APPRECIATE EVERY STEP
With daily routines and responsibilities, and the growing list of to-dos stealing time, it’s easy to overlook the simple moments of joy. It’s important to appreciate every step of your daily journey. Each week, choose one day (Sundays work best for me)—pick the three most important tasks and focus only on those.
10. GO SLOW TO GO FAST
Planning time is becoming valued less and less. Every part of life and business seem to be moving faster than ever. There’s significant benefit in slowing down to go faster and designing a project carefully at the start by defining success and setting clear expectations for all involved.